Friday, November 18, 2011

Myanmar did not go to US, ultimately it is US that went to Myanmar



The United States and their silly liberal supporters in the Western media might believe that the Myanmarese military leaders had at last yielded ground to democracy, and that is the reason American president Barack Obama is sending his secretary of state Hillary Clinton to go to Yangon. It is a nice little pretence to satisfy the brittle American self-image of being the apostle of democracy. It is true that America is a democracy but it is not a simple one. Alexis de Tocqueville in his 1835 book, Democracy in America, showed fairly well the virtues as well as the vices of democracy.
No one has made a proper study of why the military intervened after the 1988 electoral victory of Aung San Su Kyi and the National League of Democracy (NLD). The loud talk of democracy and freedom seemed to have frightened the insulated Myanmarese establishment. After 20 years self-imposed isolation, Myanmarese leaders seem to feel a little at ease to accommodate democracy. The military could not have survived if the majority of Myanmarese people did not share the conservative biases of the military generals and others in the country's establishment. (The sad truth about the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s was that the majority of Spaniards were not too enthusiastic about the radical republican sentiments.)
It is necessary to analyse whether Suu Kyi paid a heavy price but she has learned the hard lesson from her side that change will be slow in Myanmar, and the military leaders must have realised that Su Kyi is a real patriot and that she would not lead the country astray. It is this mutual rapproachement after 20 years of misunderstanding and pain that is the game changer in Myanmar. The Americans are really bit players in this intense and almost tragic national drama of self-discovery.
The Asean (Association of South-East Asian Nations ) neighbours of Myanmar understood the Yangon's political dilemmas and that is why as far back as 1997 they had included Myanmar in the Asean much to the chagrin of the Americans. The then secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, in the Clinton administration, was hectoring Asean to boycott Myanmar. Asean governments knew better and they just heard out the democracy rant of the Americans, but they integrated Myanmar into the economic arrangement of the group. This was a much more decisive factor in the political normalisation inside Myanmar than any ostensible pressure that Western democratic countries ever managed to exert on the country.
India too played its part carefully. Without ignoring the importance of Aung San Suu Kyii -- India gave her the Nehru prize for world understanding when P.V.Narasimha Rao was the prime minister even as New Delhi was building bridges with the military-ruled country -- India kept the links open which were also helpful to India. China too did the same thing, following a policy of building bridges. It is these moves and gestures that gave space for the military junta to move towards democracy.
It is time that Americans are not allowed to walk away with the undeserved laurel for the return of democracy to Myanmar.

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